The Region X – Northwest Public Health Training Center collaborates with local and national partners to develop training on a wide range of injury and violence prevention topics.
Name: Region X – Northwest Public Health Training Center
Housed Within: Northwest Center for Public Health Practice at the University of Washington School of Public Health
Location: Seattle, WA
Established: Overall center founded in 1990; established the public health training center in 2000
Network States: Washington, Oregon, Alaska, and Idaho (NWCPHP also serves Wyoming and Montana on other projects.)
Director: Betty Bekemeier, PhD, MPH, RN
Designated Content Area: Injury and Violence Prevention
News of opioid abuse, gun violence, and suicide are dominating the national dialogue. Open a newspaper or glance at a television and you’re likely to see yet another reminder of the devastating and inequitable impact of injury and violence. Together, injury and violence are the third leading cause of death in the United States and account for billions of dollars in medical costs each year. Despite this, public health continues to face diminished funding and staffing to address this far-reaching problem. A Washington State public health director once referred to this discrepancy as “the biggest mismatch between public health dollars and public health problems in the US.”
Injury and violence can be prevented through the right population-level interventions, policies, and partnerships. However, as the field of injury and violence evolves, public health practitioners and their partners must be ready to adapt to its rapidly changing landscape. As part of a national network dedicated to workforce development, the Region X Northwest Public Health Training Center (NWPHTC) is providing crucial training and resources to help those working in injury and violence prevention build skills and learn about the latest best practices for their work.
Housed within the Northwest Center for Public Health Practice at the University of Washington School of Public Health, NWPHTC serves Washington, Oregon, Idaho, and Alaska—roughly one-fourth the US land mass, with 13.6 million people spread across urban, rural, and frontier settings. While the region is united by similar health issues, there are large variations in politics, populations, and even public health structures. For example, attitudes about and approaches to firearm safety look very different in urban Seattle than in rural Alaska. Each community has specific interconnected factors influencing their health and prevention policy and practice.
NWPHTC works with injury and violence prevention experts to develop training for the region and the nation, including: the Harborview Injury Prevention & Research Center, Safe States Alliance, the Western Pacific Injury Prevention Network housed at the Washington State Department of Health, and Public Health – Seattle & King County. Their expertise has helped the center better understand the breadth of work occurring to address the risk and protective factors for injury and violence and integrate cross-cutting topics like race and social justice, policy development, using data effectively, and health care reform. Key partnerships with the Washington State Department of Health and Harborview Injury Prevention & Research Center produced the one-day Transforming Injury and Violence Prevention Summit, which brought together leaders in public health, health care, and community organizations to discuss strategies for policy, practice, and partnerships.
“Injury and violence does not happen in a vacuum,” said NWCPHP Director Betty Bekemeier, PhD, MPH, RN. “These are complex problems, arising from interconnected individual, community, and societal factors. Like others in public health, we understand the urgency of these tragic crises and are driven by a passion for making a safe and equitable world of good. As a center, this means creating training, resources, and a space for conversation where people from multiple disciplines can meet, partner, and advance injury and violence prevention.”
For a largely understaffed and vastly dispersed workforce, distance learning plays a critical role in professional development and is a cornerstone of the center’s work. NWPHTC’s monthly Hot Topics in Practice webinar series and online learning management system, PH LearnLink, provide training on topics such as: firearm safety, traumatic brain injury, boating under the influence, adverse childhood experiences, and suicide prevention.
Practitioners have the opportunity to attend blended learning programs focused on crucial public health skills with the Public Health Management Certificate and the Northwest Public Health Leadership Institute, or read about regional efforts to improve health in the 2016 issue of Northwest Public Health magazine. The magazine is produced by NWCPHP on behalf of the UW School of Public Health and features innovative efforts to address tribal suicide, opioid misuse, and gun violence.
The need for training and technical assistance on injury and violence prevention is acute and growing. By assessing training needs and collaborating with regional partners and other training centers, NWPHTC hopes to minimize the “mismatch” of funding to community need.
Barbara Rose, MPH, Outreach & Training Design Specialist, Region X – Northwest Public Health Training Center
Meghan Fitzpatrick, BA, Communications Specialist, Region X – Northwest Public Health Training Center